A few weeks ago, I had hip surgery. As with every surgical procedure there is a process for recovery and rehabilitation. The week following my surgery it became clear that my nephew, Joshua Fedd, would need to visit several universities to determine where he would attend college. Josh also has the highest-grade point average in his senior class. This is a significant fact, but Josh is also exceptional in that he plays defensive end for Dunbar HS in Baltimore and was about to play for the division one state championship. He’s had a monster senior year and leads the state in sacks and his team in tackles per game. Interest in him as a football recruit increased exponentially in the lead up to the championship game. He was being pursued by the Naval Academy, West Point Military Academy (Army) and Brown University for the past two months. Now suddenly, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Georgetown University and Princeton were actively recruiting him and requesting that he schedule an official visit.
My family is not unique in our collective desire to attain the “American Dream”. Many of us have relocated from Baltimore and the northeast to other regions of the country to pursue education, training and professional advancement. We keep in touch and support each other as best we can. I had been in touch with Josh and had discussions with him about what he wanted in life and how he planned to accomplish his goals. One thing is clear to me, Josh is one of those young people who can truly accomplish anything that he sets his mind on. The ability of his nuclear family (him and his mother) to navigate the recruitment process and facilitate visits to several universities prior to the national signing date of December 21 would be a monumental challenge. They needed help. Josh called me and asked if I could help him visit West Point, University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Harvard and possibly Princeton following the state championship game on December 3. I was two weeks post-surgery and still on a walker. Family comes first so my wife and I decided to swing into action and coordinate the trip along with his mother. This was a chance of a lifetime to help a deserving young person make one of the most important decisions in his life. Family comes first.
Since he had already visited the Naval Academy, we set out on December 6 with the intention to visit West Point, U Penn, and Brown unofficially along with an official visit to Harvard within the next seven days. The hope was to visit as many as we could back-to-back and allow Josh to get a real feel for the comparison of the campus environment at each school. I was not allowed to fly until 3 weeks after surgery, so my wife (friend and partner) and I traveled by train to Baltimore and picked up a rental car. She was the designated driver.
When we picked up Josh, we all discussed the fact that U Penn would not be able to accommodate an unofficial visit that day, so we headed to West Point Military Academy. It’s located 50 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River. It was rainy and foggy the entire drive from Baltimore to New York. It is a mountainous area demonstrating why New York is called the granite state. The folks at West Point rolled out the red carpet for Josh, allowing us to meet the entire coaching staff and all their athletic and academic facilities. We met with Head Coach Monken who was very gracious since they were just 4 days away from their biggest game of the season against Navy. I had my doubts about the idea of and commitment needed to attend a military academy when we arrived. By the time I left I understood the level of leadership and academic excellence that any person fortunate enough to attend the academy would receive and carry with them the rest of their life. When we left late that afternoon, we drove three and a half hours to Providence, Rhode Island, again in the fog and rain.
Brown University is a permanent fixture in the city of Providence. It is truly an urban university. Josh and I were greeted warmly by the defensive coach. This visit was all about personal connections, so Josh spent most of his day with members of the team. He was able to get to know them, see the facilities and talk about campus life as they experienced it. My wife and I spent the day immersed in the city, visiting various shops and eateries to get a sense of the place. Our impression was very positive, and we felt a welcoming spirit from everyone we encountered.
Next, we headed to Boston for the official visit to Harvard University that would start tomorrow. The short trip was welcomed, only about ninety minutes. We saw a few of the sites around the campus. Boston is a large, busy metropolis and is home to several universities. The Harvard campus is a city immersed within the city. Shops and restaurants are steps away from lecture halls and student housing. Fast paced and a truly remarkable place to live and get a world class education. The next day we dropped Josh off at the Harvard field house for his official visit with the coaching staff and other football recruits. He was able to spend two days on campus. We met briefly with the defensive coordinator and head coach Murphy. It is obvious that the atmosphere at Harvard was a polar opposite to that at West Point. Harvard is sophisticated, wealthy, and everything one might imagine one of the top Ivy League schools would be.
As we headed to the airport it was clear that the weight of the decision that Josh was tasked with making was taking its toll on him. I think he finally realized how important and how difficult this was going to be. He was impressed with each situation at each campus. Also, Georgetown and Princeton were still requesting an official visit. It was time for Josh to contemplate what he actually wanted. Not just football, but what he wanted for his life. We had discussed the fact that no matter what happens with his football career, there was an entire lifetime after football and his time spent in school would shape the opportunities afforded him professionally. He prayed and meditated on what he believed was best for him and his mother. On Monday, December 19, 2022, Joshua Fedd announced his decision to his teammates and the City of Baltimore.
The Angry Man
We all know an angry man. It seems he always speaks with passion even when the words appear